After making history at Wembley, Catalans return to Super 8s action away at Castleford. Here’s everything you need to know…
Luke Gale returns to Castleford’s squad for the first time in four months. The England playmaker had been absent with a fractured knee-cap.
Adam Milner and Ben Roberts also return to the side, with Kieran Gill, Calum Turner and Jamie Ellis all making way.
With so many changes to the squad that beat Warrington Wolves 28-18 before the short break, the home fans will be anxious to see whether or not the same chemistry between the players remains.
Castleford 19-man squad: Clare, Clark, Eden, Gale, Holmes, Maher, Massey, Mata’utia, McMeeken, McShane, Millington, Milner, Moors, Roberts, Shenton, Trueman, Wardle, Watts, Webster.
Challenge Cup winners Catalans Dragons will be without four of their Wembley heroes, including back-rower Jason Baiteri and winger Fouad Yaha.
Greg Bird and Vincent Duport come in to replace them, with Thibaud Margalet, Lambert Belmas and Lucas Albert also coming in.
Having lifted their first piece of major silverware in the English game, Catalans now face the challenge of maintaining their form for the remainder of the campaign. But with a top-four spot out of reach, there isn’t much incentive.
Catalans 19-man squad: Mead; Wiliame, Langi, Casty, Moa, Garcia, Bird, Bousquet, Duport, Margalet, Tierney, Jullien, Albert, Da Costa, Belmas, Gigot, Goudemand, Drinkwater, Edwards.
Seeking a top-two finish and a subsequent home semi-final, the pressure to get a result definitely rests at the feet of Castleford.
If Wigan were to lose on Friday evening, victory for the Tigers would see them leapfrog the Warriors and take a one-point lead.
Daryl Powell’s side tore Catalans apart 41-0 in this fixture earlier in the season, but there is still cause for concern. Castelford got a taste of their own medicine when the Dragons replied with a 44-16 win in Perpignan. Couple this with the ecstatic mood in the visiting camp and this could be an interesting clash.
KEY BATTLE – Luke Gale vs Tony Gigot
Gale’s return couldn’t come at a better time for Castleford, who have made a habit of winning and losing alternate matches of late. The win against Warrington put out a real statement, but there is still work to be done. Having scored nearly 950 points for the Tigers since his three years at the club, Cas welcome back their star man and will look to him to provide the magic touch at every possible opportunity.
But Catalans have a relentless points scorer themselves, Tony Gigot. As the Man of the Match in the Challenge Cup semi final against St. Helens and then receiving the Lance Todd trophy against Warrington in the triumphant trip to Wembley, Gigot is in inspired form and, although a Super 8s semi-final place is out of reach, there is nothing to suggest that the Frenchman won’t deliver another match-winning performance on Saturday.
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: Saturday 1st September
Venue: Mend-a-Hose Jungle
Referee: Greg Dolan